I recently read this Mohawk Thanksgiving prayer during a class I am taking called The Great Turning which is focused on the shift from the Industrial Growth Society we know so well to a Life Sustaining Society. It is said to be 900 years old. I thought it might be something you can share with your loved ones as part of your holiday ritual/celebration. It is a powerful way for all of us to pay our respects and remember the scope of our connection to other elements and species on our dear planet including mother Earth; the waters; the fish; the plants; the animals; the birds; the trees; the Four Winds; the Thunderers; the sun, moon and stars; the Enlightened teachers and teachers who have come before us or will follow us; and the Creator. Please let me know if you incorporate this into your celebration. I would like to hear about your experience.
Exploring the sciences of cosmology, biology and genetics help us to better understand the deep human connection to nature.Cosmologist Brian Swimme explains how being human is an extension of the original energy that emerged from the eruption of light that occurred 13.7 billion years ago in our universe.As the universe expanded and cooled the actual components of our bodies emerged.These components exist throughout the planet in various species and forms ranging from water to rocks.Biologist Lynn Margulis discovered that all complex life developed from an original symbiosis of four different bacteria.Three of these bacteria were incorporated into the first nucleated cells, and the fourth was the one that gave them mobility.These nucleated cells eventually fused into more complex forms including plants, fungi and animals.Biologist Edward O. Wilson has described how all higher eukaryotic organisms, which are organisms containing one or more cell with visibly evident nuclei and organelles, from flowering plants to insects to humanity are thought to have descended from a single ancestral population that lived about 1.8 billion years ago.A genetic comparison between humans and other primates highlights the similarities.The typical human protein has accumulated just one unique change since chimps and humans diverged from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago. Jane Goddall and Mark Beckoff explain that we share 98.7% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas and 96.4% with orangutans in their book "The Ten Trusts."Geneticist David Suzuki speaks about how humans literally are our environment.The air that we breathe; the water that we drink; the sun that generates energy in plants that we eat; and the soil that grows these plants; all exist as elements within our physical bodies.Johan Galtung reminds us of how the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, micro-organisms and plants all come together for the successful operation of photo-synthesis, which in turn is the basis for the food chains on which we all depend.The components of nature all exist within us.Elisabet Sahtouris explains how humans see through their eyes that plants, animals and even rocks are separate, but if we look into a magnifying glass all of nature exists in an energetic molecular dance of chemical reactions and recombinations. We are connected to all aspects of nature, and its preservation is critical to our very survival.
Last week I was preparing a research proposal about the human connection to environment/nature.I had to decide the best word to use to describe the concept I was looking for.After looking on dictionary.com I came up with a few definitions for each.
The American Heritage dictionary (2000) defines “environment” as:
“The totality of circumstances surrounding an organism or group of organisms, especially: The combination of external physical conditions that affect and influence the growth, development, and survival of organisms: ‘We shall never understand the natural environment until we see it as a living organism’ (Paul Brooks).”
“Natural” has a couple of meanings that are of interest:
1.Present in or produced by nature: a natural pearl.
2.Of, relating to, or concerning nature: a natural environment.
3.Not acquired; inherent: Love of power is natural to some people.
4.Relation by blood: A natural blood relative.
“Nature” is defined as:
1.The forces and processes that produce and control all the phenomena of the material world: the laws of nature.
2.The world of living things and the outdoors: the beauties of nature.
3.A primitive state of existence, untouched and uninfluenced by civilization or artificiality: couldn't tolerate city life anymore and went back to nature.
What I didn't like about the definitions for environment or nature is how they are described as something that is external.We remove ourselves from the intimate connection that humans have with nature by defining the environment as something that is "outside.”Nature is a part of all of us.It includes the air that we breathe, the water that we drink to the fruits and vegetables we eat that come from the soil.For this reason, I ultimately selected the word nature as the best choice for my purposes.
This posting is a comment I made to loveman lovenature who was going through the same analysis on the Inspired Protagonist site.
This week I delivered a presentation on Indoor Pollution, Human Health and Technology. Indoor pollution is an issue in both developing and developed countries. Over 2 billion people rely on biomass fuels (wood, coal, dung) for heating in cooking in developing countries. Cooking over open flames in poorly ventilated environments, disproportionaltely impacts the health of women and children. In the developed countries, especially the United States exposure to chemical and biological contaminants and radon are larger pollution issues in homes. However combustion can be an issue if someone smokes in the house, which over 4000 contaminants into the environment.
WWF in Europe just released a fun quiz you can take to begin thinking about how toxic your environment is? Europe is leading the world right now in taking precautions regarding testing for human and environmental health impacts of chemicals being manufactured, with the proposal of the Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) program.
For more information on chemical environmental pollutants that threaten our health I suggest the following resources:
Happy Earth Day 2006. This years theme is climate change solutions. Before thinking about solutions, it is important to understand that the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is now well above where it has been in the past 450,000 years. The gases that we send into the atmosphere will remain there for many years to come. Even if Kyoto targets are met, we will still be well above the normal fluctuations of carbon in the atmosphere for much of the next century. Thus, there is still a need for more to be done at a global scale. That starts the U.S. who generates the largest percentage of global emissions. The good news is that on a state and metropolitan area level, progress is being made in the U.S. It isn't just governments and industries who need to act. We all can make a difference. To get started, The Earth Day Network has published a top ten list of things that can be done on an individual level
I am a big fan of David Suzuki. This 30 minute-clip It’s Not Just Empty Space discusses what it means to be fully human in our interconnected universe. It is a shortened version of his series Sacred Balance, based on the book he wrote of the same title, that aired on PBS in 2003.
Educating yourself on the risks you face from external pollution sources is an important factor in monitoring your overall health. Once you know about these risks, you have the option to influence changes through grassroots activism. Take control by finding out about the levels of air and water pollution in your community. A great resource is The Scorecard. You can type in your US Zip Code and get an in depth report for your county. It includes information on who is polluting, what the most harmful pollutants are, how your county ranks in comparison to others in the country, and what pollutants in your area pose the greatest cancer or other health related risks.
As you can see from my Breathable Homes post, the casita I am staying in allows me to have a very intimate connection with my surroundings. The openness is not unlike camping, as I can hear all the sounds of the forest. This image highlights the canyon around Ciudad Colon. At the center point is the town, and then two bands of hills extend from this point. I live at mid-elevation on these hills.
This past week we have had four heavy days of wind. While lying in bed at night I have noticed that the wind comes in waves, similar to waves in the ocean. It comes over the ridge, thunders through the canyon, building force as it rolls toward the casita. I hear it get louder and louder it approaches. When it finally arrives, like waves crashing in the ocean, it crashes against whatever may be in its way, such as the casita. But, then it passes, and the sound gets more and more distant as it moves along its path.
Patterns in nature repeat themselves. Waves in water. Waves in air.